Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Chief Executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), has won the prestigious, Ramon Magsaysay Award 2012, Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize, with five other recipients.
In giving Rizwana the award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) recognised “Her uncompromising courage and impassioned leadership in a campaign of judicial activism in Bangladesh that affirms the people’s right to a good environment as nothing less than their right to dignity and life.”
The six awardees will join the ranks of 290 other recipients of Asia’s highest honour to date when they are conferred the award in presentation ceremonies to be held on August 31, 2012 at the Philippines International Convention Centre.
This year’s Magsaysay Award winners will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of the late President, and a cash prize.
“There is one thing these Magsaysay laureates share: a greatness of spirit which infuses their distinct leadership for change. Working with others, they all single-mindedly apply their skills to their passion for improving the lives of others. They all refuse to give up, despite adversity and opposition. They are all deeply rooted in hope,” RMAF president Carmencita Abella said.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award was created in 1957 in honour of the late President Magsaysay, who in the same year died in a plane crash. Known as the ‘Man of the masses,’ Magsaysay was well-loved for his simplicity, humility, and passion for justice, particularly for the poor.
Romulo Davide, a 78-year-old Filipono agricultural scientist, is also among the recipients.
Romulo Davide was honoured with the award for his “steadfast passion in placing the power and discipline of science in the hands of Filipino farmers, who have consequently multiplied their yields, created productive farming communities, and rediscovered the dignity of their labour.”
Davide is considered the “Father of Plant Nematology” for his groundbreaking work on nematode pests that weaken and destroy agricultural crops.
Davide, who was named an “Outstanding Agricultural Scientist” by the Philippines Department of Agriculture in 1994, is currently a professor emeritus at the College of Agriculture of the University of the Philippines, Los Baňos.
The four other Asians who have demonstrated transformative leadership through farmer education, women economic empowerment, and good education for the young are Chen Shu-Chu, a vegetable vendor from Taiwan, Kulandei Francis, a social worker from India, Yang Saing Koma, an agronomist from Cambodia, and Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto, an environmentalist and social entrepreneur from Indonesia.
Chen Shu-Chu was recognized for ‘the pure altruism of her personal giving, which reflects a deep, consistent, quiet compassion, and has transformed the lives of the numerous Taiwanese she has helped,’ according to the RAMF web post.
Kulandei Francis has been honoured for ‘his visionary zeal, his profound faith in community energies, and his sustained programs in pursuing the holistic economic empowerment of thousands of women and their families in rural India.’
Meanwhile, Yang Saing Koma was recognized for ‘his creative fusion of practical science and collective will that has inspired and enabled vast numbers of farmers in Cambodia to become more empowered and productive contributors to their country’s economic growth.’
Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto was recognized for ‘his sustained advocacy for community-based natural resource management in Indonesia, leading bold campaigns to stop illegal forest exploitation, as well as fresh social enterprise initiatives that engage the forest communities as their full partners.’
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